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OSU’s Big 3 Has Already Written Its Name All Over the School’s Record Books

What can they do in 2020? (If and when football returns.)

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Spring practice came to an abrupt halt a week ago when a global pandemic sidelined one of the most highly-anticipated teams Mike Gundy has ever coached. (That’s a sentence I never saw myself typing.)

So while waiting with bated breath — unsure of when football will actually return — I attempted to distract myself with a dive into the media guide to see where some of the top names from the 2020 roster sit in school history. Unfortunately what I found didn’t make me pine for our favorite Saturday sport any less.

I started, of course, with Chuba Hubbard, the returning rusher who singed the record books last season after leading the nation in just about every category that matters for a running back.

Chuba is just 26 games into his college career but he’s already one of the most-accomplished Cowboys ever. After turning in the third-best season mark ever (161 yards per game) last season, he is also third in yards per game in a career at OSU.

Rushing Yards Per Game (Min. 20 games)

1. Barry Sanders — 118.7
2. Terry Miller — 113.2
3. Chuba Hubbard — 109.0
4. Thurman Thomas — 106.4
5. Justice Hill — 98.3

And nearly half of that career, so far, was spent as a backup. If Chuba averaged 139 yards per game over 13 games as a senior (again he averaged 161 last year), he would usurp Barry on that impressive list above.

In just two seasons, Chuba pushed a three-way tie of Desmond Roland, David Thompson and Keith Toston (27 TDs each) out of the top 10 in career rushing scores.

Rushing TDs in a Career

1. Barry Sanders — 53 (1986-88)
2. Terry Miller — 49 (1974-77)
3. Thurman Thomas — 47 (1984-87)
4. Joseph Randle — 40 (2010-12)
5. Kendall Hunter — 37 (2007-10)
6. Tatum Bell — 34 (2000-03)
6. Jeremy Smith — 34 (2009-13)
9. Justice Hill — 30 (2016-18)
10. Bob Fenimore — 28 (1943-46)
10. Chuba Hubbard — 28 (2018-19)

With fewer than one TD per game next year, he would be in a top five of Barry, Thurman, Terry Miller and Joe Randle.

And the impressive YPC numbers for a career you see below are made even more impressive when you realize that he toted the rock an astounding 328 times last year.

Career Yards Per Carry (Min. of 200 carries)

1. Barry Sanders — 6.8
2. Chuba Hubbard — 6.3
3. Dantrell Savage — 5.99
4. Andre Richardson — 5.93
5. Kendall Hunter — 5.91

Chuba and Barry in the 6s. Then everybody else.

Despite missing the final four games due to a knee injury, Tylan Wallace also climbed into the record books his junior season.

Receiving Yards in a Career

1. James Washington — 4,472 (2014-17)
2. Rashaun Woods — 4,414 (1999-03)
3. Justin Blackmon — 3,564 (2008-11)
4. Hart Lee Dykes — 3,510 (1985-88)
5. D’Juan Woods — 2,751 (2002-06)
6. Tylan Wallace — 2,512 (2017-19)
7. Marcell Ateman — 2,466 (2013-17)
8. Dez Bryant — 2,425 (2007-09)
9. Josh Stewart — 2,204 (2011-13)
10. Adarius Bowman — 2,187 (2006-07)

After 1,491 yards as OSU’s option his sophomore year and his on-pace numbers landing just shy of that during his truncated junior season, it’s reasonable to expect a healthy Tylan in 13 games as a senior to approach the 4,000-yard mark.

That would put him, very appropriately, among the top three leading receivers in school history in eight fewer games than Rashaun Woods (48) and 11 fewer than James Washington (51).

Total Career Receptions

1. Rashaun Woods — 293 (1999-03)
2. Justin Blackmon — 253 (2008-11)
3. James Washington — 226 (2014-17)
4. Hart Lee Dykes — 224 (1985-88)
5. Josh Stewart — 180 (2011-13)
6. Jalen McCleskey — 167 (2015-18)
7. D’Juan Woods — 163 (2002-06)
8. Josh Cooper — 161 (2007-11)
9. Dez Bryant — 147 (2007-09)
10. Tylan Wallace — 146 (2017-19)

Tylan is also currently T6 in TD receptions (20), fourth in receptions per game (5.4) and his 17.2 yards per catch is behind only James Washington’s 19.8 for a career.

Even Spencer Sanders, despite a rough stretch — and captaining a rush-heavy offense — made his mark in the media guide.

He’s just scratching the surface of his potential, and though he had his struggles, Sanders still made it into the top five in school history in pass efficiency.

Career Pass Efficiency (Min. 200 attempts)

1. Mason Rudolph — 159.7 (915-1447-26)
2. Brandon Weeden — 157.6 (767-1103-27)
3. J.W. Walsh — 153.3 (299-474-10)
4. Zac Robinson — 146.6 (610-999-31)
5. Spencer Sanders — 145.4 (247-2065-16) 
6. Taylor Cornelius — 144.4 (303-509-13)
7. Clint Chelf — 143.1 (317-537-15)
8. Donovan Woods — 137.3 (114-219-5)
9. Mike Gundy — 135.2 (636-1078-39)
10. Josh Fields — 133.5 (445-815-25)

With targets like Tylan, speedy deep threat Braydon Johnson and Dillon Stoner, Sanders had no trouble airing out the deep ball last year. And that showed with his impressive 8.4 yards per attempt.

Career Yards Per Pass Attempt (Min. 200 attempts)

1. Mason Rudolph — 9.4
2. Brandon Weeden — 8.4
2. Spencer Sanders — 8.4
4. Zac Robinson — 8.3
4. J.W. Walsh — 8.3
5. Taylor Cornelius — 8.2
5. Donovan Woods — 8.2

When it comes to the type of big-number passing offenses OSU has been known for, it’s a healthy leap from the middle of this next list up to the stratosphere in terms of where Rudolph and Weeden ended their careers. But I have hope that Sanders can close the gap and at least pass Josh Fields, the Corndog and his head coach.

Passing Yards Per Game (Min. 20 games)

1. Mason Rudolph — 324.2 (42 games)
2. Brandon Weeden — 298.7 (31 games)
3. Mike Gundy — 192.6 (44 games)
4. Taylor Cornelius — 190.8 (22 games)
5. Josh Fields — 190.3 (32 games)
6. Spencer Sanders — 187.7 (11 games)
7. Zac Robinson — 184.8 (45 games)
8. Clint Chelf — 142.6 (30 games)
9. Aso Pogi — 131.2 (28 games)
10. Rusty Hilger — 124.4 (32 games)

OSU didn’t reach 300 passing yards in a single game in 2019, the first time that’s happened in a decade. But with a (hopefully) healthy Tylan & Co., more trust and his own development in Year 2, I think we could see Sanders’ production skyrocket in 2020.

Nos. 2 and 30 are known commodities. With both on the field and on two feet, your offense is instantly more dangerous and dynamic. Sanders still has more to prove as he shoulders the weight of college football franchise and the lofty expectations he’s put on himself.

What I keep coming back to is the fact that before he was sidelined, things were definitely clicking for Sanders. I’m excited to see what another year under his belt, and between his ears, looks like for No. 3 and how that can bump him up in the record book.

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